Sometimes, Instagram feeds find a language of their own. Our editor came across Edgar Ortiz’s work while scrolling. Ortiz, 38, is a hobbyist photographer and musician. He specialises in streetscapes like this one, in which the city can seem on fire. He gives each of his pictures a moody soundtrack – this one comes with Better Believe as a backing, an epic rap by Belly, the Weeknd and Young Thug.
Music came first for Ortiz – he’s been involved in that since he was 16. He has only been taking pictures seriously for a couple of years. You don’t really need the soundtrack to catch the emotion of this picture, though. It was taken from a train platform in downtown Chicago, the city in which Ortiz has always lived. Like nearly all of his pictures it is a lyrical hymn to the urban energy of his city. Sometimes, he focuses on faces, but these long drive-by vanishing points recur as backdrops, giving the pictures an ambiguous intensity and possibility, one part Mean Streets, one part Yellow Brick Road. His pictures are included in the feed of the influential street art community, BCNcollective, which showcases emerging talent.
Ortiz is inspired by the neo-noir pictures of Billy Dinh and Nicolas Miller, all mist and night sky and neon reflection. He says he is always looking for external landscapes to match an image he has in his head. Some of his fiery aesthetic, he believes, comes from the fact that he is colourblind: “I love black-and-white photography,” he says, “but I have tried to challenge myself to do colour photography.” In his way of sensing the world, those car tail-lights bleeding beautifully over the rain slicked street, carry a particular resonance; in the fast-forward world of Instagram you don’t have to look at his pictures for long to sense Ortiz sees things slightly differently.
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